Everyone has that neighbor, or friend, or friend of a friend who is a wreck waiting to happen. Sooner or later you will have to work around them horse back. It is comforting to know you have something to ride who can take that stress without having a come apart.
Case in point: We helped some family brand this spring. Whether it was the neighbor kid running under my horse's head to get to the calf we just heeled and were headed to the fire at a high trot, or the drunk idiot stumbling through the middle of the branding pen you had to watch out for, there was always some kind of chaos afoot. Knowing the potential I took "Natty," my bridle horse the Cowboss made for me (who I am still trying to get used to after losing Cricket). She was doing pretty good. Then I pantyhosed a big calf. Instead of dallying, I went with the calf, bucking across the branding trap (calf, not Natty), hoping the rope would slide off it's flanks and I could get dallied before slipping a foot. When that didn't work, I went to turn the calf off the fence. I was thinking I could reach down and slip the rope down. Just as soon as I got close enough to reach down and move the rope, someone decided to help me. They came running at me, spooking both Natty and the calf. The calf darted behind my horse still roped. We were a tangled up mess. Instead of panicking with the rope around her feet, Natty held her breath and waited for the dust to settle. In case you are wondering, I lost the calf. Natty didn't have a come apart. She didn't lose her head. She stood there and waited for a cue from me.
You should always have a horse that can keep it's head when things come tight. Not just for your safety, but for everyone around you.
2. Pretty Boot Tops. They are like expensive lingerie. Nobody has to see them, but you still feel sexy. Feeling sexy makes you confident. When you are confident, you rope better.
3. Pretty Silver Earrings. They make you feel good and like you are put together. You are more confident when you look and feel your best.
4. Painted Nails. Either finger nails or toenails. Just because I work with a bunch of men doesn't mean I need to act like one. Painted nails are a good reminder that I am a girl and should always act like a lady.
5. A Good Cinch, and not just because I tie and sell them! I feel a cinch is one of the most important pieces of tack a person should have. It keeps your saddle on your horse. You need to keep it clean and check it often for broken strands. There is nothing worse than soring your horse or roping a soggy yearling and having your saddle come right off your horse! Your horse will perform better when they are more comfortable.
Do you name your cows? Apparently we do. I guess you could say it's been a long winter feeding here because now the majority of our cow herd (and some of the corrientes too) all have names. Of course it falls on mom to remember all of the names and who each name goes to. When there were only 3 cows and calves, it wasn't this hard!
I do take full responsibility. I encouraged the boys to name the twin heifers their grandpa gave them a couple of years ago. QT named his "Rosie," and TR had "Juliet" and her calf "Gnomeo" (who is now our herd bull). Our other bull is named "Tybalt" to go with the Gnomeo and Juliet theme. Some names are pretty unimaginative. We have a "Blackie" (she's black), "Red" (she's red), "Baldy" (who has a white face), and "Roanie" (you guessed it, she's roan). Then there is a "Vindicator," our muley herford heifer and "Ely the Second" (Ely the first belongs to the ranch and resides at Red House). Some names are really off the wall. We have a black calf named "Sunshine," a red cow fondly known as "Mustard Sandwich," (because QT likes mustard on his sandwiches), and a black and white corriente known as "Snowflake."
I have vetoed a few names. We just can't have a bull named "Sprinkles." I wouldn't let them name the cow that got me down last winter "Fighter Attack" either. We need some more color in our cow herd because the color black is about exhausted!
When the Cowboss and I were first married, we had a camp job. I spent 9 months of the year in remote cow camps, and it was heaven. Some months we lived in cabins, but a lot of the time we lived in a camper. Not a very nice camper, but camp was way better than the company house we had to live in. I could put my arms out and touch both walls, but I didn't complain.
Since we moved about 8 times a year, we packed pretty light. Not having electricity and packing water, we didn't have much use for a lot of kitchen gadgets either. This is my list of 5 kitchen items I think every cowgirl needs. They are the 5 I couldn't live without.
1. Cast Iron Skillet.
Cast iron is awesome! You can use it on the stove, in the oven, or even the campfire. It is easy to clean and helps prevent anemia. You can use a skillet to fry and egg, bake biscuits, cook a steak, or bake a cake. It is super versatile. Have I mentioned they make a great tool for self defense? Or attitude adjustments?*
2. Cast Iron Dutch Oven.
Like a cast iron skillet, it can be used anywhere. I used mine much as a crockpot. I can adapt any crockpot recipe to cook in a dutch oven in my oven. The biggest obstacle I had was getting it to fit in a camper oven!
3. Mixing Bowl.
Mixing up biscuits, pancake batter, or scrambling eggs is definitely easier if you have a decent bowl to do it in.
4. Wooden Spoon.
You have to have something to stir with. The nice thing about a wooden spoon is it won't melt, so it can be used on the stove top, and if you don't have a potholder, you can use it to lift the lid off a dutch oven. They are also pretty cheap, so you can replace them very easily.
Comes in handy flipping pancakes and eggs, or serving dinner.
What are 5 kitchen tools you can't live without?
*The Rambling Ranch Wife does not condone adjusting spouse's attitude with a cast iron skillet. The threat alone of using said skillet should do the trick! ;)
I just completed 3 months of U.S. Census phone surveys. One of the questions I was routinely asked was "How many hours did you work last week at your primary job? How many hours did your husband work at his primary job?" WE live on a ranch. I am a cowgirl. The Cowboss is a cowboy. Do you think they would believe me if I responded with "Well, there are 7 days in a week and 24 hours in a day, so I guess 168 hours?"
While we may not have been physically working on the ranch, we were on call that entire time. For me this is a very hard question to answer. Do I just account for the hours of physical labor? What about the bookkeeping aspect of it, or even just the hours I spend thinking about my ranch job? Things like figuring how much to feed each cow or horse, and how much hay we need to get through the winter, or what vaccines we need to give and how many doses we need to purchase, or even what jobs I need to complete here on the ranch.
Ranching isn't a 9 to 5 Monday through Friday job with a 40 hour work week. We don't get a time card to punch when we get to and leave work. We don't have weekends off or vacations. If we take a trip away from the ranch we spend that time worrying about what is going on at the ranch.
Why do it? I have a college degree and can have a job anywhere with better hours and better pay. The Cowboss could get a job at the mine, work 15 days a month and make significantly more money. We could both drive brand new vehicles and have a brand new horse trailer. We could go home a the end of the day and not think about our jobs.
On the other hand, we wouldn't be able to take our boys to work with us whenever it strikes our fancy. We wouldn't have the teaching opportunities to teach things that are important to us, like work ethic, compassion, or the cycle of life that ranch living grants us. We wouldn't be able to stop in the middle of work to watch a cow calve, cranes dance, baby geese swimming, or even a coyote hunting mice in a ditch. I really don't know why people would want to work anywhere else!